Insights into the Gospel of John: Chapter 10

By Lloyd Ellefson

It is not surprising that John's gospel is called "the eagle." This wonderful chapter certainly ascends us and brings us into the heavenlies - into Christ!

It begins with Christ's dissertation of the good Shepherd and His sheepfold. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber." There is only one right entrance into the sheepfold, even though there are more ways of gaining access into it. The way by which we enter is important. The only right way of entering is through the door! After the door has been opened and permission has been granted to enter, we are welcomed into the sheepfold.

But if we try to get in without the approval of the shepherd, we will try to sneak in. In other words, if we ignore the door, we are trying to gain entrance by our own efforts. We are trying to have an association with the sheep and/or the Shepherd, not in the prescribed way, but our own way. Climbing up gets us in by our own efforts. Jesus said that those who do this are thieves and robbers for they are casting aside the grace of God, and robbing the Lord of an opportunity to do something for them. God wants us to know that His grace and blessings cone to us without our own works, ideas, merits or self-effort!

"But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice." (vv.2-4) We notice that Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd, is the leader! Since we do not know where He is going, it is useless to try to go ahead of Him and wait for Him to get there. We cannot lead Him (though we might often like to), and He is not going to receive direction from us. Being in Christ means that we walk in Him; we do not do our own thing; we follow as He leads!

A disciple of Jesus Christ is His follower! The shepherd's sheep learn to follow Him right from the beginning. We are not the leaders of the flock. We no longer take the responsibility of deciding where to go, nor how the food we need is going to be provided. These are the responsibilities of the good Shepherd of the sheep. We follow Him today, tomorrow, and in all future tomorrows. We will never get ahead of Him! Christ never sends His sheep to pasture - He always goes ahead of them and brings them into the pasture He has for them!

How does the shepherd get His sheep? We know that he who has heard and learned of God, comes to Jesus. "All that the Father gives Me, will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." So the sheep are given Him by the Father. He first teaches us through the law (the schoolmaster), and when the law has done its work in us, we are presented to Jesus Christ as the bride.

God is careful about whom He gives to Jesus Christ. He does not give Him those who commit spiritual adultery, those who oppose Him, or those who try to wield authority over Him. Christ readily accepts everyone who comes to Him, i.e., everyone whom the Father has given Him!

Everyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the door (Jesus Christ) has not been given to Christ by the Father. Those who try to enter in some other way are going to have problems. People who have not been taught by the law are going to be pharisaical and hypocritical; they will try to achieve their salvation through their own works. Their teaching robs people of the truth. They rob people of the correct or right way to God by advocating a wrong way, and thus are thieves and robbers.

His sheep know the voice of the shepherd! There are many different voices that presume to be the voice of the shepherd. There are all kinds of people who are shepherding people. They are discipling them and gathering them in flocks of various denominations. Some are gathering them out of the church and some are gathering them into the church. But there is a true shepherd, and when we hear His voice, we shall know it!

"A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers." (v.5) Once we have heard the voice of the Son of God, we will know it, and when we hear it again, we will recognize it. People who always wonder what the Lord wants them to do, and keep trying out various churches in their attempt to find the right one to remain in, have a wrong concept and are unstable. You see, the pathway that the true sheep (the ecclesia, the called-out ones of God) will follow, will continually lead them out of the grasp of those who do not hear the voice of the true shepherd. They might get into a wrong pathway for awhile, but they will not continue in it; it will only be a detour; they may be lost for a while, but they will not be gobbled up or consumed by doctrines, organizations, behavior patterns, self-effort, etc.

"This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them." (v.6) In combination with this verse, let's also read Mark 4:11. "And He was saying to them, `To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables.'" Everything is a parable to those who are outside the kingdom of God. So when we operate in the natural mind without the Spirit's enlightenment, everything comes to us in a parable or proverb. The reality isn't there; it is only similar to reality. We need reality because parables don't do anything for us. The reality of the Word will change us; it will feed us and sustain us!

"So Jesus said to them again, `Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.'" (vv.7-8) To whom were the people listening? The true sheep will not listen to any other voice than the true Shepherd's. They do not recognize the voice of the thieves and robbers. The Shepherd's voice is the way, the truth and the life!

Thieves and robbers always take something which does not belong to them. In this case they were taking away truth and replacing it with error; they were taking away life and replacing it with death; they were taking away the way, and replacing it with confusion, lack of purpose, lack of understanding and lack of destiny!

The statement that the sheep did not hear the false shepherd's voice, is very enlightening. Which sheep were not hearing Him? Most of the Israelites were not listening to Christ - they were listening to another voice. But there were some who were hearing Christ. It is really something to be called of God and to be one of Christ's sheep! When we have Jesus Christ as our Shepherd, we can rest assured that He is going to take care of us!

When we are trying to take care of ourselves we are usurping God's authority. This happens when we try to solve our own problems and go our own way. Instead of listening to God, we try to make our own wishful thinking and dreams come true, and attribute to God the things that come from our own mind and imagination. There is so much of that going on today! The New Age movement has crept in and has influenced many people in the kingdom of God, so they are just circling around the mountain of confusion. Many are saying God told me to do this, God told me to do that, and God made me do it, when in actuality they do not know the voice of the Shepherd. God speaks to us and creates a spiritual realization, or a knowing in us. When He speaks we have to listen and be in subjection to what He says!

In the Old Testament we find many conversations which people had with God. But now He has spoken to us through His Son, and we have to hear what He says through His Son. If we have a listening attitude we will hear Him! This is the way we live and it is the only way to live!

Continuing on we read, "I am the door, if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly." (vv.9-10) These words were being addressed to the people living in Judah. Among them, I'm sure, were some rich people with lots of money, property, camels, goats, and whatever. They must have been surprised to hear Jesus saying, "I came that you might have life." What did He mean? Weren't they alive now? He was telling them that their understanding of life was absolutely wrong! What they thought was life, was not really life. Their physical life was not their real life! True life comes in the Spirit.

Most people believe that life is resident in the flesh, and when the flesh dies, life is gone too. But LIFE doesn't go away. No one can kill the life of God, and the only life in the universe is the life of God. Anything else we think is life is only an imitation then - a delusion about life. God is the only life, all life sprang out of God, and life cannot be separated from God!

The only way we can live and exist in God, is through our consciousness or realization. Our realization of God has to come through the Holy Spirit. When our body dies, we no longer have a consciousness of physical life. The book of Psalms emphasizes this by saying that those who are dead cannot praise God, nor can they speak of His faithfulness. (Psalm 30:9) True life does not depend on whether we are physically alive or dead - it depends upon God!

Having a union with God is far greater than this physical life! It gives us a sense of being which we will retain even after this body of ours dies. If we have not experienced this union with God, we have not come into a realization of what true life is. Then we only have the natural or physical sense of life.

Jesus said that the thief comes just to kill and to steal and to destroy. Can you see how the thief is exactly opposite to our wonderful Lord Jesus? Jesus did not come to take away anything except lies and deception; He didn't come to rob us of anything - He came to give! He is a Giver! When we represent God, we also become givers!

Paul tells us in Acts 17:25 that God is not served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things! Since God does not have any needs, there are no needs for us to fulfill. God is only a Giver! Since He is the source of all things, He has a lot to give! As we come to recognize this we will be filled with a heartfelt feeling of thankfulness toward God. This will result in deeper communion and worship! And this is God's purpose for us!

It may be a humbling thing for us to realize that God does not need us for anything. He does not need the tithes we pay. Regardless of how much we have grown spiritually, how much we have learned, or how effective we are, God does not need us. He does not need anybody. He does not need us as parents or in a certain position. He simply does not need anything, for He provides everything! When we learn to live in that knowledge, we are in a much better position to receive from God. In fact, it is the only true way to live!

Although He does not need us, He wants us, for He has created us for a purpose! He wants us to be sharers in His nature! Showing grace and mercy, love and forgiveness are not only for the benefit of others but also for ourselves! He wants us to share in His glory! He wants a relationship with us and wants to change us into His likeness! As we look at the things He wants for us, we see that these too are given us by God!

Jesus has come to give us life! He said, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life (literally soul) for the sheep." (v.11) It is interesting to note that two different Greek words are used in verses 10 and 11 which are both translated as "life". He has come to give us life (zoe), which means life; and the good shepherd lays down His life (psuche), which means soul.

Let's briefly look at the difference between the two words. Jesus said, "My words are spirit and are life (zoe)." We know there are various kinds of spirits, and not all spirits bring forth life. Only the spirits that come out of life can bring life. Christ is a quickening Spirit; He came out of the life of God. However, His soul was the consciousness of His being, His understanding of what He was, and who God is. His level of understanding was perfect and therefore higher than anyone can attain to!

Jesus laid down His life (soul) for the sheep. Because Jesus knew who He was, He knew what was required of Him and what He would do. He said that the Son of Man would be crucified. This meant that He would not die as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man! Many think that Jesus, the Son of God, was killed by humanity on the cross; if this were true, then mankind was able to kill the Son of God. What power humanity gives itself! Looking at His death from God's side, we see that the life that was in Jesus Christ was the life of God that could NEVER be killed. He said, "I live by the Father." It was the Father's life, and His life cannot be killed.

Jesus said that He gave His soul for the life of the sheep. His soul was the consciousness of His being. We are redeemed by His soul. The life is NOT in the blood (the Hebrew word, nephesh, used here in the original, means soul). However life is in the spirit! The correct translation says that the soul is in the blood. Christ's soul is the consciousness, the awareness and the realization that Jesus Christ had. Jesus said that we are not to try to save our soul. The KJV and many other translations often wrongly translate the Greek word psuche as life instead of soul. God made man a living soul! When our awareness or consciousness is taken away, we no longer function.

We need to be freed from our lack of understanding, our wrong conception and awareness of life. When Christ came, He had the soul (awareness) not just of natural and earthy things which belong to the death realm of Adam, but of life - that which produces, sustains, and is life! So He lays down His soul (psuche) for the sheep. By doing that He laid down His consciousness, His awareness, His sense of being, His relationship to God. This redeems us from the consciousness we were living in - which was one of delusion. This is how we are redeemed. In Isaiah 53:11 we read, "As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied...". We were redeemed by His soul that was poured out.

"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them." (v.12) Jesus is contrasting the nature of a shepherd with that of a hireling. A hireling is more interested in his own life than in the life of sheep which don't belong to him. When danger comes, He runs away because he does not have any vested interest in the sheep - he only lives off them. He doesn't mind fleecing them for his own good!

But a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus, the good Shepherd, cares about the sheep because they were given Him by God. He only wanted to do the will of God and nothing else! So if God wanted Him to lay down His soul for the sheep, He was willing to do this. This demonstrates God's great care for us and how He keeps us!

"I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me." (v.14) Christ's words are very important! We must accept them as written. We can't take a middle course! He said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matt. 24:35) He also said that He knows His own, and His own know Him! They won't follow a stranger because they don't know the stranger's voice. They only know the shepherd's voice!

The people who know the Shepherd's voice are His sheep! Since they know the Shepherd's voice, they know that every voice that is not His, is a false voice! They don't have to know all the false voices; they only need to know the Shepherd's voice! Those who have a mistaken identity of who their shepherd is, will listen to all kinds of voices, and they won't be able to tell which belongs to the true shepherd. But Jesus says that His sheep know His voice and He is known by His sheep. This promise is our assurance that nobody is going to take those sheep from Him, because God has given them to Him, and He is going to take care of them. He is not going to lose anyone whom God has given to Him!

"Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life (psuche=soul) for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life (psuche=soul) so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." (vv.15-18)

People were trying to destroy the soul of Jesus because they did not like His awareness, His consciousness and realization of God. The Romans didn't care one way or another about Jesus Christ. They asked what wrong He had done. They were surprised that the Jews should come to them to deal with a person who had not done anything against their law! Jesus was innocent as far as evil was concerned, but the Jews did not like the fact that He claimed to have a Father-Son relationship with God!

"A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, `He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?' Others were saying `These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?' At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, `How long will you keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.' Jesus answered them, `I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me.'" (vv.19-25)

Since only the Son knows the Father, and only the Father can reveal the Son, Jesus did not make people aware of His supernatural birth. He referred to Himself as being the Son of Man. He also said that God was His Father, and His life demonstrated who God the Father is. While Jesus did not proclaim that He was the Christ, the Son of God, yet when asked about it, He acknowledged it. He did not glorify Himself nor did He seek His own glory.

Jesus said, "The works that I do in My Father's name, these bear witness of Me." (v.25) In v. 32 He said, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" Jesus never did His OWN work; He didn't go around healing anyone He wanted to. He only healed those who God wanted Him to heal! The works He did were the works God wanted Him to do. That is why He revealed the Father in the works He did!

Remember, Jesus is talking to Israel as He says, "`But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.' The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him." (vv.26-31)

In these statements Jesus gives us wonderful security! The Father is greater than all and we are secure in Him, for no one is able to snatch us out of His hand! The Father gave us to Jesus and that is why Jesus is so greatly dedicated to us! He gives eternal life to His sheep and they will never perish!

In John 5:25 we read, "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." Hearing the voice of the Son of God produces a quickening - an awakening! It is the call of God to awaken us from sleep, that is, from our unconsciousness of God that dwells in darkness. This resurrects us out of darkness and death and brings us into life.

"Jesus answered them, `I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?' The Jews answered Him, `For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.'" The Jews did not like the fact that Jesus called God His Father. They could handle or tolerate the works and the healings, but they could not handle the fact that Christ had a oneness with God and that He understood that God was His Father.

"Jesus answered them, `Has it not been written in your law, "I said, you are gods?"'" (v.34) Actually, man is a god to himself; he continually rejects the true God. This is what the Jews were doing and this is what every natural man does to God. Every natural man who has not submitted himself to Christ, is his own god. If, after coming to Christ, he continues to walk in his own way, he has not received the Lordship of Christ, and is still demonstrating his own godhood. He only wants to receive from God and Christ what pleases him; that which doesn't please him he rejects. This has nothing to do with denominational affiliation. Our walk with God will take us beyond all denominational differences.

Jesus continued to explain things to them. "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,', because I said, `I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.'" (vv.35-38) Here He reiterates that His works testify of Him. His Father's power and His Father's ability caused all these wonderful things to happen. By doing the Father's works, Jesus was demonstrating who the Father is. This should be a great comfort to us because we can now know that the Father is exactly as Jesus demonstrated Him to be!

"Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. Many came to Him and were saying, `While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.' Many believed in Him there." (vv.39-42)

We are to be believers. We are not choosers! God chooses us and we believe Him. If we think we can be the master of our destiny and choose to obey or disobey, we again put ourselves in the place of godhood. Just as Jesus submitted His will to the Father, so we are to submit our will to Him. We delight to do His will!

God bless you. Amen.

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